COMMUNITY swimming pools across the UK face a significant threat to their continued viability after hearing from the Treasury that the financial support package will be significantly scaled back for the charity sector as a whole, and virtually eliminated for pools at risk from spiralling energy costs.
The Government has confirmed a £5.5bn scheme of support for the year from 1st April 2023, down from the £16bn scheme which has supported businesses, charities and the public sector over this winter.
Whilst Museums have been included in the list of sectors entitled to a higher level of financial support, community pools have been excluded.
Members of Community Leisure UK (CLUK) – the organisation that represents charitable trusts delivering public leisure and culture services – have previously said that 80% of its members are at financial risk amid skyrocketing costs.
Swimming pools are particularly vulnerable because of their high energy bills to heat water and the ambient environment.
Phil Rumbelow, Chair of CLUK, said: “This news is a bitter blow for the community leisure sector, particularly public swimming pools, which puts their continued operation in question. Unless other steps are taken by the Government, nationally and locally, this decision spells the end for community leisure as we know it. One thing is clear, inaction has consequences.
“Our members will continue to argue that the cause of publicly accessible leisure is an ideal worth fighting for. As just one example, we simply cannot accept a situation where the only route for a child to learn to swim is through a private pool, with all the costs and limitations to access that involves.
“We are actively seeking a change of mind on the part of the government, as well as direct crisis support for our sector. We will not accept the collapse of public leisure and the major impact on public health that will result.”
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